Riffs – Volume 1, Issue 2 – October 2017

Issue 2 of Riffs: Experimental writing on popular music is here!

The theme for this issue is Songwriting, and contributors were asked to respond to the following prompt, provided by Simon Barber, our guest editor.

A song can be about anything

About peace or war, or the sins of industry

Or the discontents of fame, or of obscurity

Or how we first met, on the warmest day

And how I hadn’t planned to love someone until you came

Or how we survived on happiness and sleeping on the floor

Or how you used to love me but you don’t even know me anymore 

– Dan Wilson, ‘A Song Can Be About Anything’ from Love Without Fear

Simon expands upon this in his editorial, to which the writer of the words above, Dan Wilson, added his own thoughts. And with that, we are underway with what is a fascinating issue of Riffs. Our contributors got in touch from near (Birmingham, UK) and far (Wellington, New Zealand) to produce a range of experimental responses to Simon and Dan’s prompt. We have photo essays, performances, musical scores, lyrics, and written pieces that together deal with subjects that vary from the recurring theme of bicycles in psychedelia, the lyrics of Tom Waits, to the use of technology by disabled musicians.

Thanks to all of our contributors, and to our guest editor Simon Barber. It has been a pleasure to bring this all together, and we hope you enjoy delving in to this new issue of Riffs.

To navigate through Riffs #2, click on the links to individual articles below to read them in full (and download PDFs), or simply scroll to the bottom to view and download the whole issue as a PDF.


Editorial – Simon Barber (Birmingham City University)

Dropping Pebbles – Brian David Stevens

Mimesis (1, 2 & 3) – Tom Pierard (The Eastern Institute of Technology, New Zealand)

About About: A Songwriter’s perspective – Tom Wilson (Royal Holloway College, UK)

UNBROKEN CHAINS: the fascination of psychedelia with bicycles and the long strange trips that ensued – Camila Asia (London South Bank University, UK)


El Tren Fantasma: A Familiar Journey into Unknown Narratives – Fiamma Mozzetta (Goldsmiths, University of London, UK)

Bone Machine (1992). What the hell is Tom Waits singing about? – Adriano Tedde (Griffiths University, Australia)

How can you sing a song if you have no voice? Disabled musicians, activism, technology, and the authenticity of creativity – Leon Clowes (University of Huddersfield, UK)

Aotearoa: Picturing the lyrics of the land – Katie Rochow (Wellington University, New Zealand)


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